From 1963 to 1966 Gallup asked Americans what they thought of Martin Luther King Jr. on a scale of -5 to +5. I’ve renormed this to a more common 0-10 scale:
By 1966, King’s average rating had fallen to 3.5. Even if you exclude the large number of stone racists who gave him a zero, he only scored a 5.4. He was not an especially popular figure.
In 2011, Gallup polled King again using their old scale. By then he was beloved, scoring 8.7 no matter how you count. Even the stone racists had given up. Practically no one rated him less than a 7.
It’s always easier to love someone when he’s no longer around to make trouble, isn’t it?